Rating the State of the Sleaze: Ads ratchet raunch down

TINA FEY from the “Saturday Night Live Weekend Update” staff recently noted that CBS had banned an anti-Bush ad during the Super Bowl because “they don’t air so-called ‘issue ads.’ ”

That is, Fey noted, “unless the issue is that girls are sluts for beer.”

Last year, when we were treated to Miller’s infamous “Catfight,” and a not-so-subtle suggestion of a threesome with the Coors twins, I would’ve agreed completely. In Joe Sixpack’s first State of the Sleaze report, I noted that beer commercials had become damn near pornographic.

As the 2004 beer commercial season heads into next week’s Super Bowl, I’m obliged to report the sex has been racheted back a few notches. No blatant male fantasies. No kissing lesbians. And only a token slut or two.

Instead, beer commercials this season are heavy on humor and slick, computer-generated visuals. (I’m still trying to figure out how Bud managed to get a drop of its lager to splash into the shape of a crown.)

Meanwhile, here’s Joe Sixpack’s 2nd annual State of the Sleaze, rated on a scale of 1 to 6 (with 6 being an ad that might actually make me forget my principles and drink factory-made swill).

   Becks

Get me a cold shower. This one’s the hottest of the season, with a steaming bod dancing behind glass. Break it in case of emergency. 4

   Coors Light

After dozing off during one of its dull carbohydrate comparison spots, I thought Coors had abandoned its twins and replaced them with a slide show from my 8th-grade health class. 1

But the Rocky Mountain brewer returns to the erogenous zone populated by ass-swinging cheerleaders with fleshy chest mounds. I’m not certain, but I believe Coors is the Official Beer Sponsor of Mammaries. 4

   Michelob Ultra

She’s no sex object, she’s an athlete running in her underwear! And he’s not trying to get her drunk so he can lure her into bed, he’s merely enticing her with a low-carb beer! 2

   Labatt Blue

A babe and a guy in a bear suit. Forgettable. 1

   Rolling Rock

Her: Love.

Him: Sex.

A dull, pointless affirmation that, when it comes to beer, women are from Venus and men are from Latrobe. 2

Completely devoid of sex

   Miller Lite

Its “Dominos” is eye-candy, and I like the guy throwing himself on the car hood while screaming, “My beer has no taste!” I’d be even more impressed if  these weren’t ads for completely tasteless light beer. 4

   Guinness

A Monty Python-esque cartoon: Brilliant!

Treat St. Patrick’s Day like a real holiday: Not so Brilliant! 3

   Budweiser

As usual, A-B blows away the competition.

“Leon,” the NFL star with a million excuses, is instantly recognizable as your typical overpaid, underperforming professional athlete – especially for anyone familiar with the career of ex-Eagles running back Ricky (“For what, for who?”) Watters.

Given all the gripes about the negative images of ESPN’s “Playmakers,” I’m surprised the league hasn’t complained. Could be the NFL’s silence over a commercial that lampoons its players has something to do with the $50 million or so it pockets from Anheuser-Busch every year. 5

Not all A-B ads are winners. I’m getting a little tired of Cedric the Entertainer (“I got a fire in my pants!”). 3

The ref with toilet paper on his cleats, as part of Bud’s “True” campaign, is just OK. 3

And every time I see young Auggie Busch IV holding a single hop bud, I imagine he’s showing us the entire bittering quota for a single batch of his fizzy yellow crud. 1

But that’s nitpicking, because A-B is running its best ads since the “Whasssup” series. I’m speaking, of course, about Bud Light’s “Real Men of Genius.” 5.5

The ads started on the radio, and they’re so entertaining, the brewer actually released them on CD. Now they’ve made their way onto TV, with Mr. Way Too Much Cologne Wearer and Mr. Footlong Hot Dog Inventor, among others.

The fun is in how the witty narrations poke fun at the achievements portrayed by the typical beer commercial “hero.” Forget the sexy blonde and the stud athlete. This beer’s for Mr. Sports Fan Face Painter.

A few bits of trivia: The series was originally called “Real American Heroes, ” but A-B changed the name after the Sept. 11 attack. The guy on over-the-top ’80s vocals is David Bickler, formerly of Survivor (“Eye of the Tiger” from “Rocky III”). The backup singers include at least one vocalist who’s accompanied the Rolling Stones. And the narrator, Pete Stacker, is the voiceover for hundreds of other commercials, from McDonald’s to Oprah.

These spots are so right on, even Mr. Centerfold Retoucher (currently on radio only) won’t raise an eyebrow from the Raunch Police:

Narrator: Your incredible talent takes gorgeous women and somehow makes them gorgeous-er.

Singer: Uhh-mucho gor-gee-oso.

Narrator: Breasts, bigger. Moles, smaller. Mustaches, gone.

Singer: You’re a star!

Narrator: Thanks to you, hot wax is a thing of the past, and working out is for suckers.

Singer: Ancient his-tor-ee.

Narrator: Any artist can say their work is in a gallery. But how many can say their work is stuffed under mattresses around the world?

“So crack open a Bud Light, oh da Vinci of the Derriere. Because thanks to you, we can enjoy real beauty the way we like it: Completely fake.” *

   Joe Sixpack, by Staff Writer Don Russell, was written this week with a glass of Grottenbier.

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